Small business are the lifeblood of their communities. The reverse is also true. Without the love of the communities that surround them, most small businesses would be out of business. Therefore, it stands to reason that most entrepreneurs understand the value of giving back to the places they call home with events like donation drives, fundraisers, and volunteer days.
But while nearly everyone recognizes the value in this sort of community engagement, not every business owner feels able to act on these impulses. Money is tight, schedules are even tighter, and it can be hard to fit this sort of optional-but-worthy activity into your already overstuffed to-do list. Many entrepreneurs end up pushing community engagement off 'until we're bigger' or 'until next year.'
But according to Michael Robin Manning, Chief Relationship Officer of Austin-based app design and development firm Rocksauce Studios, the perfect time to get engaged in your community is now. No matter how small your business, you have all the tools you need to make a positive impact and forge closer bonds with potential customers (or employees), the believes.
In a recent Medium post she outlines exactly how her company made community involvement central to its culture, and also explains the business benefits from doing so. But perhaps the most useful section of the helpful post are Manning's suggestions for how other time and cash-strapped business owners can follow in the footsteps of Rocksauce. Here are her ideas in brief:
1. Begin with people.
"Take an employee-centric approach by learning what's meaningful to your team members and connecting with them about ideas and opportunities for community outreach. Encouraging employees to volunteer -- and supporting them with company-sponsored volunteer days or flexible hours -- emphasizes the value your company puts on getting involved," recommends Manning.
2. Find a champion.
Community involvement really fires some people up. Use that to your advantage to take some of the organizational heavy lifting off your plate. "There's someone in your organization who embodies the culture you're looking to achieve. Make this person your champion in identifying opportunities and leading your company's engagement. Along with recognizing the champion's dedication and skills, you're encouraging other employees to get involved as well," Manning advises.
3. Keep up the hype.
Like pretty much anything else that matters, community involvement isn't a once-and-you're-done type deal, according to Manning: "You have to constantly promote your give-back philosophy, remind employees about opportunities, and, most importantly, reward involvement."
Is your company as engaged in the local community as much as you'd like it to be?